The historic peasant uprising of Naxalbari turned 50 on 25 May, 2017. To commemorate this occasion and celebrate the revolutionary legacy of Naxalbari in today’s challenging situation, CPI(ML) had organised a yearlong campaign that concluded in Naxalbari and Siliguri with homage to the greac martyrs and leaders of the uprising and a renewed collective resolve to resist the growing communal fascist offensive of the Modi regime and take the movement to newer heights. In this second part of our special feature on Naxalbari50 we bring you a report of the May 25 rally in Siliguri and the resolution adopted by the CPI(ML) Central Committee saluting the glorious revolutionary legacy of Naxalbari. We also carry brief biographical sketches of Comrades Jangal Santhal and Babulal Biswakarmakar, two great architects of Naxalbari, and pay our homage to Comrade Khokan Majumder, the veteran leader of Naxalbari who passed away just four days after the 50th anniversary. And we reproduce an article written by Com. Arindam Sen for the Economic and Political Weekly on the movement-party dialectic as it has unfolded and evolved along the Naxalbari-CPI(ML) trajectory.
On the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the great Naxalbari peasant uprising, revolutionary activists and masses from various districts of West Bengal and even distant corners of the country assembled in Siliguri and Naxalbari to pay tributes to the immortal martyrs of 25 May 1967 and the architects of the historic Naxalbari uprising and CPI(ML). Before an impressive rally at Bagha Jatin Park in Siliguri in the afternoon, CPI(ML) leaders and activists visited the historic sites of the uprising and renewed their resolve to carry forward the revolutionary legacy of Naxalbari.
The village of Jharujote was the first point of assembly. A memorial plaque stands at the side of the main road reminding of the incident of 24 May 1967 when the police had to beat a retreat in the face of the united resistance of peasants and tea garden workers. The collective might of the people had prevailed sending shock waves among the rulers and unleashing the revolutionary energy and initiative of the toiling masses all through North Bengal and beyond. The memorial was erected by the Darjeeling District Committee of the Party during a padyatra in November 2016 celebrating the legacy of Naxalbari. CPI(ML) central committee members and scores of activists from different parts of the country paid floral tributes to the martyrs. Also present on this occasion were fraternal guests from Bangladesh, Comrade Saiful Haque, General Secretary of Revolutionary Workers’ Party of Bangladesh, and Politburo member Comrade Bahnisikha Jamali.
The next destination was Bengaijote where armed police had gunned down eleven unarmed comrades, eight women, a fifteen year-old boy and two children on May 25, 1967. This was an act of utter cowardice on the part of the police- the hundreds of women who had encircled the police contingent had trusted them to go away peacefully once their weapons were returned only to be betrayed and fired upon by the same police. The blood of the eleven martyrs congealed to become a bright red star on the sky that still burns bright. The spark lit a prairie fire across the country that continues to simmer and spread even after five decades.
Addressing assembled comrades at the memorial, Comrade Abhijit Mazumdar, secretary of the Darjeeling District Committee of CPI(ML), gave a brief account of the spring thunder of Naxalbari. Comrade Dipankar spoke about the contemporary resonance of Naxalbari in today’s India. Later in the day thousands of comrades took out a procession from Siliguri Junction railway station to Bagha Jatin Park at the heart of the town. Chants of ‘Naxalbari Nahi Mara hai, Nahi Marega’ (The immortal spirit of Naxalbari lives on) rent the air as the march traversed through the busy streets of the town to the Bagha Jatin Park for the ‘Naxalbari Lal Salaam’ (Red Salute to Naxalbari) meeting to celebrate the glorious revolutionary legacy of the great uprising.
The meeting was chaired by veteran CPIML leader Comrade Swadesh Bhattacharya while Comrade Partha Ghosh conducted the proceedings. Comrade Abhijit Mazumdar welcomed all on behalf of the Darjeeling District Committee of CPIML. The meeting paid homage to the immortal martyrs of the Naxalbari movement and felicitated veterans who continue to inspire the present generation with their unflinching commitment and undiminished revolutionary zeal. Among veterans who addressed the rally were Comrade Nemai Ghosh, the first publisher of Deshabrati, the historic organ of the Naxalbari uprising and CPIML and Comrade Khemu Singh, veteran of many battles of the Terai region since the turbulent 1960s.
The Darjeeling District Committee of the Party released a special publication to mark the occasion – a collection of interviews of a host of local leaders and organisers of the Naxalbari uprising. Paschimbanga Gana Sanskriti Parishad (West Bengal People’s Cultural Council) brought out a collection of selected songs, mostly in Bangla, that have emerged from the Naxalbari movement over the last five decades. West Bengal State Committee of CPIML presented mementos to guests and leaders from different states. Comrade Saiful Haque, GS, RWP of Bangladesh paid homage to the martyrs and greeted all comrades on behalf of the Left movement in Bangladesh. Comrade Arun Ghatani of CPRM Darjeeling also expressed solidarity with the CPIML and spoke about the ongoing people’s struggle in the hills against the unjust and undemocratic attitude of the state and central governments to the aspirations of the Gorkha people. Comrade Dipankar stressed the need for unity among all fighting forces against the growing fascist offensive of the Modi regime and for a countrywide resurgence of the revolutionary communist movement.
The meeting was followed by an evening of open-air cultural performances by a number of song and dance troupes from West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh. Songs presented by the Patna-based group Chorus and dance presentations by a group of young students from Boddapadu in Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh were widely appreciated. The entire Central Committee of the CPIML was present throughout the May 25 programmes. The next three days, the Central Committee held its plenary session in Siliguri.
The Naxalbari veterans and guests in the rally were presented with the mementoes on the 50th anniversary. A book of compilation of the stories on Naxalbari martyrs was also release on this occasion.
The rally concluded amidst passionate sloganeering, followed by a cultural evening where revolutionary songs and plays were performed in memory of Naxalbari struggle by teams from many states.